The Real Reason Why Women Hate Going To The Gym

By Anika Severns

In University, I went to the gym nearly every single day. It was a double edged sword to conquer loneliness and insecurity in a new town with a long-distance relationship. Gyms usually bring to my mind large biceps and gazelle-like women on treadmills. Everyone seems ensconced in their own process, their own system, their own music blaring in their own headphones. Occasionally you get the groups of girls who selfie their way through an ab workout, and there has to be the requisite spotter for that guy lifting his new record weight. They’re a place where we can all get a little sweaty and work some stuff out, whether that is in our minds or bodies.

My first day there, complete with waiver signing and the requisite tour, was awful. Self-conscious, sweaty, bright-red, I huffed and puffed my way through something all while trying to get out of my head. I watched these girls on the treadmill, running, running, running, and somehow looking exactly the same as when they came in. I watched the group classes, enter and leave giggling, loud music pumping through the walls.

Slowly, over time, I found my own rhythm and stopped comparing myself to the other bodies walking, running, moving around in the same space. I started to feel my body respond and become harder and softer at the same time. I now knew that if I ever needed to, I could run, and maybe even enjoy it.

The gym became my safe zone, all headphones and my own time to process while working out the kinks in my bones. It was non-threatening, in the way that only a small liberal college gym could be. For months, I dutifully showed up every-day and loved my body through the process. I’d never felt so strong or so proud before. I felt like I was finally finding that elusive ‘perfect’ that the media is always encouraging, if it even is reachable.

One day it all fell apart. I’d run my three miles, I’d completed my squats, sit-ups, what have you. I have ‘Get Low’ blasting on my headphones and in the spring air, I feel like Wonder Woman. Walking to my car, I am thinking about lunch later, about the sunshine finally showing it’s face so far north, about how I might finally be over the heartbreak of my latest break-up.

Key in the ignition; headphones out. There is a knock on my car window that sends my heart into my throat. Someone is standing there, to this day I do not know his name. I roll my window down, he says he saw me in the gym and wanted to talk to me so he followed me to my car. I’m a little too shocked to fully take in how incredibly inappropriate that is. He is asking me out, after following me from the gym to my car, and hoping I’ll say yes. Truth be told, I said yes. I got a free meal out of an awkward situation and I never saw him again. I also never went back to the gym after that.

Now, 4 years later, I started going to a gym again. A different gym, but one that told me its principles stand by non-intimidation, a safe zone for everyone and their body. It took two days before someone gave me their number; this time I said no.

What does a girl have to do to get a workout in peace?